11 Tips on How to Negotiate Salary Over the Phone in 2021

Properly negotiating a higher salary offer is something everyone can benefit from.

Whether your conversation is over the phone, via email, face to face, or through Zoom, the following advice can help you nail your next salary negotiation.

How to Negotiate Salary Offer

How to Negotiate a Job Offer

Questions Answered

  • What can be negotiated in a job offer?

  • How to negotiate salary over the phone (email, zoom, face to face)

  • How to write a negotiation email (with samples)

  • How to respond when someone asks about salary expectations

Found You Dream Job? Check!

Sent In Your Resume? Check!

Interview Went Great? Check!

Now what? It Sounds Like You’re Ready To Negotiate!


According to a study conducted by staffing firm Robert Half, just 39 percent of workers negotiated their salary during their last job offer. Robert Half surveyed more than 2,700 workers across 27 major U.S. cities and found that some people were more likely to negotiate than others.

Negotiating for higher pay can be tough and even uncomfortable at times. Whether you're starting a new role or looking to upgrade a paycheck, asking for an increase is bound to come up in your career.

Fun conversation, right?

Regardless of your feelings toward salary negotiation, worrying about saying the wrong thing or avoiding the conversation altogether isn’t the answer. You certainly can't get more money if you don’t ask or make your interest known.

MRINetwork says the most popular reason for job offer rejections are: accepting another offer (47%) and the pay is lower than expected (25%).

If these people knew how to negotiate salary more effectively, they might have had a job they liked with the higher pay they wanted/deserved.

What can be negotiated in a job offer?

While every job opening and company policy is different, almost all aspects of an offer can be negotiated (primarily the salary, benefits and perks).

If you’re interested in the role but feel more compensation or vacation days would be ideal, consider negotiating the offer.

Can You Lose a Job Offer by Negotiating Salary

While this rarely happens, hiring managers or recruiters can cancel a job offer during salary negotiations.

How to Negotiate Salry over the phone

Have you ever declined a friends request to go out for drinks? Maybe you’ve turned down a parent asking to meet up for lunch?

Now, is turning them down harder in person or over the phone? ...”In Person” is likely your answer (just like ours)!

Having a manager turn you down for a raise or holding strong on a lower salary via the phone is easier for them, just like turning down a friend for lunch over the phone is easier for you.

Negotiating salary over the phone can often put you at a disadvantage and give your manager the upper hand. It can also create a communication gap that may throw off the flow of a conversation.

None the less, our current work world is more remote than it has ever been - making phone or online video conversations (like Zoom) the new norm - and a necessary skill to master.

So, how do you negotiate salary over the phone if you can’t meet face to face? Here are 11 bits of advice that can help you win your next negotiation.

Note: The following steps can be slightly altered or changed to accommodate any form of salary negotiation.

1. Prepare Yourself

Prepare what you intend to say about why you deserve a raise (i.e. exceeding expectations, completing tasks, growing profits).

Be specific and bring evidence if possible. The person in charge of the decision may not realize you increase profits by 17% in the last quarter, but you can have the records to prove it.

Preparation will help build confidence for what might be a tough conversation. 

2. Research The Market

Read up on the market for a better understanding of current salaries within the industry. There are several online platforms like Glassdoor and Payscale that provide job seekers free information on company salaries. 

This only takes 5 minutes to research but is crucial when deciding a rate. It also provides important industry and market data to back up your request. The last thing you want to do is request an increase well outside the bounds of what is expected and appropriate at a particular company.

You will come up with a wide range of pay but make sure to ask for something toward the top of that range. This gives you wiggle room to negotiate. 

3. Explain Your Previous Salary (If Asked)

Although it’s illegal to ask about your previous salary in many states, I would suggest being straight forward with them if it is brought up. While it is certainly within your rights to let them know it’s illegal, you probably won’t get a raise if you point out that they are breaking the law by asking.

You can avoid giving a precise monetary answer, however.

They might try lowballing you with a counter offer based on your past salary, but don’t fold.

Stick to your guns, and stand up for yourself. Explain why you deserve the suggested amount. Emphasize your skills, previous work, and background to help build a case.  

4. Be Polite Yet Assertive

Remain both polite and assertive during your conversation. Show them you respect and appreciate their time but that you also mean business.

Never argue during a salary negotiation even if the person you are speaking to develops a bit of an attitude about the process.

Take the high road and keep things professional.

5. Remain Confident

Always appear confident and positive regardless of how you feel.

Confidence can be heard over the phone but if you are meeting the hiring manager in person, look to dress well, clean yourself up, and act professionally. 

Go above and beyond how you normally would act during the negotiation with your current or potential employer. These little hints of confidence will help make your case.

6. Understand Where The Company Sits Financially

Know what the company’s financial situation is prior to a salary discussion. If they are having a down year or making cuts, it wouldn’t be ideal to negotiate. 

Do not bring up specific big wins or profit increases unless you had something to do with it. Asking for a raise in association for something you didn’t contribute to is unprofessional. If you did help in some way, by all means remind them of that fact. 

Also, never bring up the fact that the CEO just bought another corporate jet or a new car. The wrong attitude is never a good negotiating tool.

Image Credit - Nerd Wallet

Source: Nerdwallet

7. Time It Right

Refrain from bringing up a pay raise before major presentations or busy work days. Presenting mid-week when there’s a slow period of time will increase your chances of success.

The person on the other side of the desk will be more relaxed and receptive to conversations which can only benefit you.

8. It’s Okay to Walk Away

Walking away from an offer will never be easy, but it’s important to know when to do it.

Before going into any interview or salary negotiation, you undoubtedly have a desired amount in your head. While flexibility is an admirable trait, never settle for less than you truly deserve.

There will be other opportunities out there.

9. Don’t Mention Personal Needs

Sad to say, but your employer likely won’t care if rent has gone up or your student loans are dragging you down.

Instead, focus on your performance and past achievements to make your case. They want to know how you value them, not how they can improve your life.

Never whine/beg over the phone, in person or in within a negotiation email/letter.

10. Talk Them Up

Don’t be a kiss-ass, but complimenting your boss by asking for advice and talking them up can put them in a good mood. Make sure it doesn't come off like that’s what you are trying to do though.

The secret to making this look natural is well, by naturally doing it.

They are, after all, the big boss for a reason. They must have skills or contacts that would benefit you in some way.

11. Pick Up On Verbal Cues

Body language and facial expressions are important for telling how a conversation is going. Unfortunately, you don’t have that luxury when speaking over the phone.

Instead, look for verbal cues to gauge how the discussion is progressing.

Is the hiring manager laughing, is their tone of voice more serious or upbeat, are they agreeing with you, do they find alternative reasons for your success within the organization.

All little things you should try and pick up on.

If you sense the conversation is going well, keep it up! If things are trending downward, look to make adjustments in your approach.

How to Write a Salary Negotiation Email

Salary negotiation is difficult to begin with, but starting the conversation through email can add a whole new layer of stress.

And while it’s best to negotiate starting salary in person, it’s not uncommon to use email during this day and age.

Your email should contain:

  • The Opening: State how much you appreciate the offer and are excited for the opportunity

  • The Proposal: Make your new salary request and build a persuasive argument on why you deserve it

  • The Wrap Up: Reinstate your appreciation towards the employer for the offer and your overall interest in the role

Salary Negotiation Email Samples

  • Dear (Name), Thank you for reaching out! I’m very excited about the opportunity to work at (Company) as (Title). With my previous experience doing (Type of Work), I am confident that I will help contribute to the company’s overall success. Before accepting the offer, however, I would like to run through the base salary. As discussed in the previous interviews, I have more experience in many of the “required skills” section of the job description. The average salary for comparable positions in the (Location) area is in the (Salary Number) range. I want to discuss the possibility of moving the offer closer to (Proposed Salary Range). Again, I am thrilled to have been offered this position and know I can contribute to (Company) overall goals. I look forward to speaking with you soon. Sincerely, (Your Name)

  • Dear (Name), Thank you for reaching out and offering me the (Title) position. I want to express again how excited I am to work with your company. Before accepting, I would like to discuss the overall compensation package. As discussed in the interviews, I have a few more years of experience in the (Specific Skill) than you required in the job description. In my last job, I also demonstrated my capabilities by (Specific Goal You Hit). With my skill set and experience, a fair salary would fall in the range of (Proposed Salary Range). I’m confident that I can bring a lot of value to (Company) and know we can agree on a fair salary. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you! Sincerely, (Name).


When a potential employer asks about your salary expectations, they are looking to take the upper hand in a negotiation. Disclosing your current or desired salary will likely tie you down to that number and negatively affect your pay rate if they originally had a higher salary in mind.

Always look to avoid giving them a specific salary number altogether unless you are hard set on it. 

Let the interviewer know compensation is important but you’re mainly looking to take on more responsibility and grow your career. Be prepared for this to backfire if they lay a lot more work on you without compensating for it with a higher salary or wage.

Sample Response: "I don't have a specific number in mind for a desired salary. While compensation is important, I’m mainly looking to advance my career and take on more responsibility. Is there a salary range you were targeting?”

Wrapping Up | How to Negotiate a Job Offer

Everyone could use a few extra bucks to help pay off student debt or improve their overall lifestyle. If you work hard and get results, you are undoubtedly worth more to your current or potential employers - so don’t be afraid to ask.

To recap our salary negotiation tips:

  • Prepare ahead of time

  • Research the market

  • Explain your current/previous salary

  • Be polite yet assertive

  • Remain confident

  • Know where the company sits financially

  • Pick the right time to ask

  • Walking away from an offer is acceptable

  • Keep your personal needs out of it

  • Talk them up

  • Look for verbal cues

Properly negotiating a salary seems daunting and uncomfortable, but it’s well worth it.

Even if your pay raise is shot down, you'll gain valuable insights for future reference. You’ve got nothing to lose.

Best of luck! 


Title: 11 Tips on How to Negotiate Salary Over the Phone (Zoom, Face to Face, Email)

Category: theFinish

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Author: Reid is a contributor to theJub. He's an employment and marketing enthusiast who studied business before taking on various recruiting, management, and marketing roles. More from the author.